On Saturday, October 22, 2005, there was a session sponsored by the Washington Square Park Council at NYU. Project for Public
Spaces, whom the Council retained to do studies on recommendations for the Park, held the session for about 100 people. It
was announced with an open invitation from the Council at the CB2 meeting on October 6, and a good mix of both individuals
and members of the various interested groups involved with the Park attended.
The first part of the session was a review of the findings of the handwritten and observational surveys that were done
this past July and August. The three most common uses of the Park from the interviews were sitting and people watching, reading,
and listening to the musicians playing in the Park.
A very interesting part of the presentation was a dynamic map of the Park, with small circles and ovals of various sizes
that overlaid all the usable sections. These were color-coded based on the number of people using each area. Over the course
of the day, changes in Park usage were very visible. In the mornings, the corners and children's playgrounds were the busiest
sections, while as the day went on, the activity moved farther and farther inward until most of the people were at the center
for the music, performances, and the fountain by early evening.
On arriving at the session, people were randomly given name tags with colored dots on them. After the first presentation,
based on the colors, groups were formed to evaluate the Park. A questionnaire about opinions and findings was passed to all
attendees, and each group went to a separate part of the Park, including asking a random visitor some questions about what
they liked and disliked about it. The groups were well-mixed, with people of vastly different opinions working together.
This took about 40 minutes after which the session broke for lunch. Then the groups sat together and reviewed their findings
and presented them on large pads and put them on the wall for the PPS to summarize as part of their evaluation.
The fountain and central area portion had a large number of people, as did all the groups. Of that group, there was one
person who thought they should raise the central area, and one who thought they should move the fountain. The vast majority
said that the current design and seating were fine except for their physical condition.
There was a lot of discussion about the possibility of more variety in the food in the Park. In general, people were not
supportive of permanent building for this, but cart type establishments appeared to be welcome, rather than the current extensive
food variety of hot dogs, hot sausages, and Polish sausages. Outdoor table seating supplied by the food providers were also
considered a positive.
A lot more was discussed than can be put down here and it was a very interesting and cooperative session. We hope the
findings will be released and available on the Washington Square Park Council website in the near future.
Project For Public Spaces Final Report
The final report by Project for Public Spaces has been released by the Washington Square Park Council.
We won't even attempt to summarize it here because of the sheer depth and quality of information. It validates much of
what we've been saying here about the Park for the last five months or so, and includes a great deal of information gleaned
from surveys and observations.
This final report also includes the survey methodology, complete results of the workshop back in October, and a history
of the Park by Luther Harris.
The report is an information-packed 56 pages with many graphics and diagrams showing usage of the Park over the course
of a day. We urge you to print it out and read it.
Comments on the results are welcome through email and will be published on the site.
So What Did The Washington Square Park Council Do With The Report?
This report fully supported this site's opposition to most of the sweeping changes in the Park's planned redesign. And yet,
WSPC was conspicuously absent in the testimony phase of the Art Commission Hearing.
But not to worry. We understand they have top men working on it. Top men.